Sometimes your symptoms may get worse very quickly. This is
called sudden heart failure or a flare-up. It causes fluid to build up in your lungs, causing
congestion. (This is why the problem is often called congestive heart
failure.) Symptoms may include:
Severe shortness of breath.
An irregular or fast heartbeat.
Coughing up foamy, pink mucus.
Sudden heart failure is an emergency.
You need care right away.
The symptoms of heart failure can be related to the pooling of fluid in the body or can be secondary to decreased blood flow to the body. Some people with heart failure don't experience symptoms, but here are some of the more common signs:
Shortness of breath with exercise or difficulty breathing at rest or when lying down
Swollen legs, ankles, or abdomen
Dry, hacking cough, or wheezing
Other symptoms may include:
Fatigue, palpitations, or pain during normal activities
A flare-up is different than heart failure that gets worse
slowly. With a flare-up, your symptoms change much more quickly. It may happen
if you have a high-salt meal, forget your medicines, get an irregular
heartbeat, or have a problem like
anemia, an infection, or a fever.
You may have to stay in the hospital to fix the problem. Some
flare-ups may take several days to control.
After treatment, your symptoms will probably go back to the way they
were before the flare-up.
Treatment for a flare-up
When you arrive at the hospital or emergency room, the doctor
will prescribe medicines such as diuretics, nitrates, and/or morphine. These
will help you breathe more easily and control your pain or anxiety. You also
may get oxygen.
Your doctor may order exams, such as a
stress test, EKG/ECG, or echocardiogram. These tests will let the
doctor know how well your heart is working.
will try to find the cause of your flare-up and treat it. For example, you may
have eaten a salty meal the night before that caused your body to
hold onto extra water and make your symptoms worse. Or the
cause may be harder to find.
the flare-up is controlled, your doctor may change the doses or types of
medicine you take.
In some cases, you may go
from the hospital to a rehabilitation (or rehab) center. The staff members are
specially trained to support people with heart failure. They can help
you with diet and lifestyle changes.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
August 5, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 05, 2010
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